Museums

Maritime history and much more


With many visitor attractions including the house of Christopher Jones, Master of the Mayflower, and the spectacular Redoubt Fort, built in Napoleonic times to defend England. Don’t miss the Treadwheel Crane built 1667, which is believed to be the only example left in Britain, in use until the 1920s.

Harwich Redoubt


Harwich Redoubt is a circular fort built in 1808 to defend the port of Harwich from Napoleonic invasion. Currently open as a museum, the Redoubt is the largest ancient monument in the UK being restored by a voluntary group. Exhibitions include a large number of replica firearms. Battle re-enactments and other events are held during the summer months. (Open Sundays only 10am-4pm).

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Harwich Maritime Museum


Harwich Maritime Museum, located in the former Low Lighthouse, was built in 1818 as one of a pair of lading lights for the harbour entrance. The museum is full of nautical memorabilia from photographs and paintings to ships and bottles and lighthouse bulbs. There are displays on the Royal Navy, including uniform and badges, and local commercial shipping. A fantastic view of the shipping activity in the harbour is obtained from the top floor. Harwich Town rail station is five minute’s walk from the museum which overlooks the harbour. On street parking is available close to the museum. The museum is accessible by foot via the foot ferry from Felixstowe. (Open Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays 11am-3pm from 1st May to 31st August).

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The High Lighthouse


The High Lighthouse is 150 yards from the Low Lighthouse (Maritime Museum) and were leading lights for the channel into Harwich Harbour, but disused from 1863. The Lighthouse is 90 feet high and has 100 steps to the top where you can experience stunning views over the Harbour and Town. Various exhibitions are housed here during the summer months. (Open from May to mid October, Saturdays only, 11.00am to 3.00pm).

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Harwich Lifeboat Museum


The Harwich Lifeboat Museum houses the old Clacton offshore lifeboat the “Valentine Wyndham-Quin”, which is a 37ft Oakley class of lifeboat. She was stationed at the Clacton Lifeboat station between 1968 -1984 and completed many honourable services. She was moved from Cromer to Harwich and the old Lifeboat boathouse was re-opened and refurnished to accommodate her. The lifeboat museum now contains a large collection of general and local lifeboat artefacts. Today the lifeboat museum is run by the Harwich Society and is open to the public during the summer period, 1st May to 31st August: Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun 11.00 to 3.00.

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The Guildhall


The Guildhall is the town’s only Grade I Listed Building and its present design dates from 1769 and remains the meeting place and administrative home of the Harwich Town Council. The Carvings Room was once used to hold prisoners waiting to be tried or sentenced and etched into the bare, wooden walls of the room are elaborate carvings of ships, gallows and symbols to ward off evil spirits, all of which date from the late 18th century. Guided tours are available by prior arrangement. (Open 9.30am – 1.00pm Mon, Wed & Fri) Tel: 01255 507211

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The Trinity Light Vessel


The Trinity Light Vessel is the last surviving example of a manned light vessel in British waters, which has been preserved in its original configuration and restored to a high standard of authenticity. The LV18 has already hosted various events, from Offshore Pirate Radio revivals to shanty singing and on-board exhibitions. Now that it has a permanent home at Harwich Quay it will be made available for a range of other functions.

Since 1999 LV18 has been cared for by a team of dedicated local volunteers and is owned by a charity set up specifically to save this nationally important vessel for her home port of Harwich. The vessel has been preserved and maintained intact, as the day she was decommissioned in 1994, with fully working engine room, electrical and mechanical systems, galley, mess room, original living quarters etc. The vessel also houses a large collection of maritime wireless communication equipment and will serve as a base for maritime and navigation based training and as a Community Resource.

LV18 is open daily from 11am – 4pm March – end October.

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Dovercourt Library


Dovercourt Library has become more of a “community hub” for the town and is situated on Kingsway. There is wide range of information and interesting facts about the area with details of places to visit and seasonal town celebrations and events. Tickets for many of the events can also be booked here. Free WIFI is available. Open daily (except Weds and Suns) Tel: 0345 603 7628 / 01255 503499

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Ha'penny Pier Visitor Centre


The Ha’Penny Pier Visitor Centre is located on the Quay. Not only will you find a fascinating exhibition about the Mayflower, this is where the Harwich Society volunteers are based and where guided walks start. Open daily from May 1st until the 2nd weekend in September. Tel: 01255 553610

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Beacon Hill Fort


Although she had been reclaimed by nature for the past 65 years, Beacon Hill Fort’s guns once guarded Britain through two world wars where she was the front line defence against an enemy naval invasion. Today the important historic landmark is set to become a trust, restored to its appearance 70 years ago, and will be offered for local community use.

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If you’ve only an hour to take in this charming town, then heading to the Ha’penny Pier is a must. Depending on the time of day you can see the fishermen haul in their catch, witness the sun going down on the coast or simply sit and watch the world go by.  As you walk down you’ll see the Lightvessel LV18 and the Harwich foot ferry on your way to coffee and cake at the Café on the Pier. There are certainly worse ways to spend an hour!

If you find yourself in this pleasant part of England’s east coast for a morning there are plenty of things to see and do. If you can wake at the crack of dawn it’s worth heading to the Ha’penny Pier to watch the day’s catch come in or perhaps try a spot of crabbing. The Lightvessel LV18 is moored here, which was used in the 60s and 70s for illegal off shore pirate Radio, and now home to a fantastic little museum which is well worth a visit.

From here it is a stone’s throw to the magnificent Pier hotel, where you can enjoy coffee or brunch in lovely surroundings.

If beaches are what you’re after, a visit to Dovercourt Bay is essential for its golden sand and panoramic views over the North Sea and Felixstowe Point. Here you can see the High and Low lighthouses which were in use until 1917.

Pop into cosy pub, the Alma Inn, after a bracing beach walk for traditional ales and a freshly caught lobster lunch.

The Redoubt Fort is a hidden gem, and Harwich’s must-see attraction. Allocate an afternoon to look round the battlements and unusual exhibits. Battle re-enactments, ghost hunts and beer festivals are held here throughout the summer months, so check the calendar to plan your visit.

There are many great accommodation options if you are looking to spend a weekend in Harwich, and plenty of activities to choose from while you are there!

Make sure to stock up on provisions for your stay at The White Coffee House, or drop into the Harwich Town Brewing Co. for a tour and some locally brewed ale (pre-booking is a must).

Seal watching tours depart for Hamford Water from The Quay on Ha’penny Pier, and are the only way to see and appreciate the creatures in their natural environment. This is a great trip for photography and wildlife enthusiasts, and is great fun for the whole family. When you return to the pier it is well worth checking out the Lifeboat museum before lunch.

Head to the Electric Palace Theatre in the afternoon to see the latest blockbuster, indie film, or National Theatre Live Production, and soak up the atmosphere inside the cinema’s beautifully restored interior.

Finish up the evening with dinner and drinks at the NAVYÄRD Bar.

Before you leave Harwich, make sure to visit the carefully restored Redoubt Fort with its excellent sea views and its weaponry collections. Finish your visit with traditional English fish and chips nearby at Piseas Chippy!

Things to do in Harwich

Harwich

Dovercourt Bay

Ha'penny Pier

Further Afield